At St Paul’s Cathedral, we are committed to extending our ministry beyond our regular congregations and towards those who need it most.
Migrants and refugees, children and senior citizens are just some of those we seek to reach and assist through our group programs, fundraising initiatives and social activism.
Unfortunately due to COVID-19 Restrictions many of our programs and activities are either suspended or meeting online. Please email email@example.com for further information about our programs. We hope to resume them when we are able to, please keep following our website or social media for updates.
Bible studies are a great way to learn about the Christian faith, to grow and live as a Christian, and to share our faith.
Our weekly Bible Study Group meets after the Sunday 10.00am Choral Eucharist. Studies also occasionally meet via Zoom at different times.
All are welcome to join the studies, no prior knowledge is required. If you own a Bible we encourage you to bring that with you – other materials are provided below and in hard copy on the day.
Lent Series 2023 • Journeying with Bach’s St John Passion:Six Steps on the Way of the Cross
These sessions will run on Sundays at 9.00am and 11.45am
26 Feb: ‘One of you will betray me’ (John 13.21-32)
6 Mar: ‘Servants are not greater than their master’ (John 15.18-25)
13 Mar: ‘Before the rooster crows, you will have denied me three times’ (John 13.33-38)
20 Mar: ‘For this I cam into the world, to testify to the truth’ (John 18.28-38a)
27 Mar: ‘You have no power over me’ (John 18.38-19.16)
3 Apr: ‘It is finished (John 19.16b-30)
Week 1 • One of you will betray me
After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, ‘Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.’ The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’ So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, ‘Do quickly what you are going to do.’ Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, ‘Buy what we need for the festival’; or, that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.
When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once
In your own time listen to Movements 1-7: Movement 1 (Herr unser Herrscher — 0min 00sec) to Movement 7 (Von den Stricken— 17min 06sec)
At the Lent Course we will listen to the Chorale: O greater Love (O große Lieb)
O greater love, O love beyond all measure, brought you to this road of torture! I lived with the world in happiness and joy, and you must suffer.
O große Lieb, o Lieb ohn alle Maße, that die dich gebracht auf diese Marterstraße! Ich lebte mit der Welt in Lust und Freuden, und du mußt leiden.
Movement 3 (13min 03sec) of Bach’s St John Passion, set as a chorale for Flutes I/II, Oboe I and Violin I with Sopranos; Oboe II, Violin II with Altos; Viola with Tenors; Continuo with Basses. The seventh verse of Johann Heermann’s Passion Chorale, Oh dearest Jesus, what law have you broken (Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen).
Bach’s music and words often encourage us to think about our own personal experiences and responses to the Bible story, to put ourselves into the story.
The Bible reading tells the story of Jesus being betrayed by one of his friends. Would you find it harder to forgive betrayal by someone close to you? Does this deepen your understanding of the depth of God’s forgiveness?
The Chorale invites us to reflect that Jesus’ love is what leads him to this ‘road of torture’ and suffering. How does it make you feel to receive this love?
The Chorale sets up a contrast, that we live in the world with happiness and joy, while Jesus must suffer. But it also implies that we live redeemed and whole because of his suffering. How does it make you feel to benefit from Jesus’ suffering?
Lord Jesus, you were betrayed by a friend: be with all who are betrayed and slandered and falsely accused. You knew the experience of having your love thrown back in your face for mere silver: be with all who are torn apart by mistrust or temptation. To you, our loving Lord, who offered your face to your betrayer, be honour and glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.
Week 2 • ‘Servants are not greater than their master’
‘If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, “Servants are not greater than their master.” If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not have sin. But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. It was to fulfil the word that is written in their law, “They hated me without a cause.”
At the Lent Course, we will listen to the Chorale: Who had struck you so? (Wer hat dich so geschlagen?)
Who had struck you so, my salvation and with troubles so battered you? You are indeed not a sinner like us and our children, you do not know about transgressions.
Wer hat dich so geschlagen mein Heil, und dich mit Plagen so übel zugericht’? Du bist ja nicht ein Sünder wie wir und unsre Kinder von Missetaten weißt du nicht.
I, I and my sins that are like little grains, that are to be found by the sea, of sand, they have provoked the distress that strikes you and the host of afflicting tortures.
Ich, ich und meine Sünden, die sich wie Körnlein finden des Sandes an dem Meer, die haben dir erreget das Elend, das dich schläget, und das betrübte Marterheer.
Movement 11 (28min 31sec) of Bach’s St John Passion set as a chorale for lutes I/II, Oboe I and Violin I with Sopranos; Oboe II, Violin II with Altos; Viola with Tenors; Continuo with Basses. Verses 3–4 of Paul Gerhard’s hymn O Welt, sieh hier dein Leben—Oh World, behold your Life.
Last week, the readings and music led us to think about God’s love and forgiveness in the face of Judas’ betrayal. This week the focus moves to us and to the world.
The Bible reading reminds the disciples that they will also experience suffering because they too bring the news of God’s love and forgiveness to ‘the world’. What is so challenging about God’s love that ‘the world’ wants to hate and reject it?
The Bible reading ends with a quote from Psalm 64, a Psalm where David reflects on feeling overwhelmed by sorrows, estranged from his family, and unfairly persecuted by enemies. Much of the Passion story seems inherently unfair. How can we address the apparent unfairness in this story about divine justice?
The Chorale invites us to reflect that even if our individual sins are small everyday transgressions, the weight of all the tiny sins of the world add up to being flayed by all the sands of the sea. What feeling is the Chorale trying to evoke in us as contributors to the distress, tortures and battering that Jesus experienced on the cross?
Lord Jesus, you were misunderstood and rejected by the authorities: be with those who are persecuted by those in power. You faced the condemnation of fearful hearts: deepen the understanding of those who shut themselves off from the experience and wisdom of others. To you, Jesus, unjustly judged victim, be honour and glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.
Week 3 • ‘Before the rooster crows, you will have denied me three times’ (John 13.33-38)
33Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” 34I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’
36 Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, where are you going?’ Jesus answered, ‘Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterwards.’ 37Peter said to him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’ 38Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.
In your own time, listen to Movements 9 to 14: Movement 9 (Ich folge dir gleichfalls—21min 56sec) to Movement 14 (Petrus, der nicht denkt zurück—36min 05sec)
At the Lent Course we will listen to the Chorale: Peter, who does not think back (Petrus, der nicht denkt zurück)
Peter, who does not think back, disowns his God, he, however, at a serious look bitterly weeps. Jesus, also look at me, when I do not want to atone; when I have done evil move my conscience!
Petrus, der nicht denkt zurück, seinen Gott verneinet, der doch auf ein ernsten Blick bitterlichen weinet. Jesu, blicke mich auch an, wenn ich nicht will büßen; wenn ich Böses hab getan, rühre mein Gewissen!
Movement 14 (36min 05sec) of Bach’s St John Passion, set to Flutes I/II, Oboe I and Violin I with Sopranos; Oboe II, Violin II with Altos; Viola with Tenors; Continuo with Basses. A setting of verse 10 of Paul Stockmann’s Good Friday hymn Jesu Leiden, Pein und Tod—Jesus’ Suffering, Pain and Death.
In the last two weeks, ‘the eleven’ disciples have been the good people, who stay close to Jesus. This week, we reflect on the moment when even Simon Peter betrays Jesus.
The Bible reading tells us that Simon Peter responds to the call to ‘love one another’ with an impassioned declaration of love for Jesus. However, before the next morning, he will have felt trapped into claiming that he wasn’t with Jesus after all. What are the challenges of acting on our love for God?
The Chorale again invites us to put ourselves into the picture, this time stepping into Simon Peter’s shoes. The Chorale claims that even though Simon Peter acted wrongly, he was immediately sorry when Jesus looked at him. What is your response to imagining being ‘looked at’ by Jesus?
The Chorale reflects that not only do we sometimes do bad things, we don’t always want to be sorry about it. What makes you resist repentance?
Lord Jesus, as Peter betrayed you, you experienced the double agony of love rejected and friendship denied: be with those who know no friends and are rejected by society. You understood the fear within Peter: help us to understand the anxieties of those who fear for their future. To you, Jesus, who gazed with sadness at your lost friend, be honour and glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.
Week 4: ‘For this I came into the world, to testify to the truth’
Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate went out to them and said, ‘What accusation do you bring against this man?’ They answered, ‘If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.’ Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.’ The Jews replied, ‘We are not permitted to put anyone to death.’ (This was to fulfil what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)
Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?’ Pilate replied, ‘I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?’ Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.’ Pilate asked him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’ Pilate asked him, ‘What is truth?’
After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, ‘I find no case against him.
In your own time listen to Christus, der uns selig macht to Durch dein Gefängnis
Movement 15(Christus, der uns selig macht — 37min 40sec) to movement 22(Durch dein Gefängnis — 1h 01min 36sec)
At the Lent Course we will listen to the Chorale: Through your prison (Durch dein Gefängnis)
Through your prison, Son of God, Freedom must come to us. Your dungeon is the throne of mercy, The refuge of all the pious; If you had not gone into slavery Our slavery must have been forever.
Durch dein Gefängnis, Gottes Sohn, Muss uns die Freiheit kommen; Dein Kerker ist der Gnadenthron, Die Freistatt aller Frommen; Denn gingst du nicht die Knechtschaft ein, Müßt unsre Knechtschaft ewig sein.
Movement 22 (1h 01min 36sec) of Bach’s St John Passion, set for Flutes I/II, Oboe I/II and Violin I with Sopranos; Violin II with Altos; Viola with Tenors; Continuo with Basses. A contemporary poem by the Leipzig and Hamburg librettist Christian Heinrich Postel used as a chorale. Christ’s self-emptying and becoming a slave sets free the believer, Paul had explained: ‘we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith was revealed’ (Galatians 3.23), but through Christ ‘now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive’ (Romans 7.6).
Lord Jesus, your kingdom is not of this world, your dungeon is your throne of grace: be with those who are imprisoned for the convenience of the powerful. You were the victim of unbridled injustice: change the minds and motivations of oppressors and exploiters to your way of peace. To you, Jesus, innocent though condemned, be honour and glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.
We offer a relaxed and encouraging atmosphere where people feel safe to have a go and practise speaking English. Classes run each Monday, beginning on 6 February, in university term time from 2.30pm – 4.30pm.
Cathedral Seniors was formed in February 2014 to create an opportunity for members of the congregation to meet for fellowship away from the hustle and bustle of Sunday services. It also provides better pastoral connections with the ministry team.
St Paul’s Cathedral stands on the sovereign Country of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation; land that was taken, not ceded. We give thanks for their ancestors, and acknowledge the ongoing right and responsibility of their elders to care for this Country. We are committed to work and pray towards a more just settlement for all Indigenous people and pay our respects to First Nations people.
Each August, St Paul’s Cathedral engages with National Science Week and runs several activities that explore the chosen theme from the perspective of the science-religion interface.
In an increasingly global and secular scientific culture, saturated with technology and the market, the science-faith conversation is at the cutting edge of Christian engagement. Our purpose is to help equip Christians for that engagement.
As Cathedrals and Dioceses across Australia joined St Paul’s Cathedral’s 2014 awareness campaign to fully welcome refugees, the Dean wrote:
Twice a week, young people from overseas come to St Paul’s Cathedral Melbourne for a few hours’ English conversation, followed by a shared meal. All of them are new arrivals to Australia. Many of them are refugees. Volunteers from churches across the city teach them English, and help them make sense of their experiences in Australia. Just as important as making them welcome in their new setting, though, is providing a listening ear to their stories.